Sunderland produced a good display at Villa Park although they will be kicking themselves for not defending set pieces better.
Sunderland took an early lead through Cisse but conceded two goals following Villa free kicks.
Keane named eight changes to the side that started against Northampton in the Carling Cup.
Sunderland started the game brightly and found themselves one nil up after Malbranque played a wonderful through ball for Cisse to run on to and despatch his shot past Friedel.
Villa hit back almost instantly when Miller fouled Young on the edge of the area. From the resulting freekick Young curled a sublime shot into the top corner leaving Gordon no chance.
Villa then managed to get themselves in front from another free kick. Young`s shot hit the wall and somehow found if way to Carew who back healed his effort in from on the line.
Sunderland`s only other chance was near the end of the game when Chimbonda was felled just outside the area. Andy Reid took the resulting free kick but his effort was just narrowly wide.
Sunderland Line Up 4-4-2
Miller 6 (Reid 7)
Richardson 7 (Stokes 6)
Diouf 7 (Murphy 6)
Subs not used
So close yet so far Keane will no doubt have his team working on how to defend free kicks after seeing his side concede two goals from dead ball situations.